Consider this post, chock-full of eye candy, your garden temptation for the week.
You see, I really want you to grow something. I don’t care how you grow. You can grow on a patio, balcony or deck. Grow plants in raised beds as in my cutting garden or potager or in-ground, but if you have red clay, let’s talk. Raised beds may be your ticket to success and happiness.
I just want you to get your hands dirty, and I’m hoping a little garden temptation will help. Get some mud on your jeans, or in your hair, as you brush it away from your pretty face. It’ll do you and your body good.
You don’t need a lot of tools.
Start with a trowel, a decent one that isn’t too thick on the end. This stainless steel 14″ garden trowel. is pretty darned good because of its pointed end, and it’s cheap as trowels go. I also like this Edward Tools soil scoop–not technically a trowel–but the perfect size to dig holes for four-inch transplant pots.
Note: I don’t like aluminum trowels. They are too thick and dull. With my red dirt, I need a sharp trowel.
If you’re gardening in the ground or raised beds, you’ll also need a weeder of some sort. Everyone has their favorite but mine is the DeWit Right Hand Dutch Hand Hoe. It’s not cheap, but it will last a long, long time if you take care of it. A new-to-me tool is this five-tine Hand Rake by Sneeboer. Garden Tool Company sent it to me around Christmas time, and yesterday, I found it excellent for use in the loose soil of my cold frames. If you’re gardening solely in containers, you probably don’t need a weeder. The only other tool I use for the most part is my clippers. I love two different clippers: Corona FS 3204 ComfortGEL Snips and Felco F-6 Classic Pruner For Smaller Hands. Don’t confuse the Corona snips listed here for the micro-snips or the ones with the small closure on the bottom. They are not as strong as the ComfortGel Snips. Last year, I also tried out some other pruners like the Felcos, and while I liked them, I still reach for my Felcos more often.
Eventually, you’ll want more tools, but these are good in the beginning.
Set up your watering system before you plant.
To make your job easier, know how you’re going to water before the summer heat rolls in, and trust me, it will, especially in the southern part of the U.S.
I work in the mornings as early as possible, sometimes 7:30 a.m. in summer, and I have everything set up on drip irrigation, even the containers. You can buy kits like this Raindrip R560DP Automatic Container and Hanging Baskets Kit online or from your local box store or nursery. If you don’t feel comfortable setting it up, have someone help you.
Bill and I set up drip systems for my containers several years ago. Having drip irrigation means still paying attention to your water situation. You still need to check on your pots every day, but not be at their beck and call 24/7.
You can actually go on vacation!
As for beds, I use a Netafim drip system and soaker hoses on timers. For twenty-three years, it was all soaker hoses.
Grow what you like.
If you like vegetables, grow vegetables. If you like daylilies and clematis, grow them. A lot of people tell me they have trouble with clematis.
How to grow clematis.
Plant clematis in raised beds with excellent soil–lots of compost–and in the shade of a crapemyrtle or a rose or another vine. Clematis need shaded roots, but they want to climb up into the sun. If you use a crapemrytle as their support, put chicken wire around the base, and let them climb it. I learned this tip from my friend, Wanda Faller. Whenever I see a clematis, I think of her.
Grow native plants.
Also, grow native plants and simple flowers for the birds and the bees. How do birds figure in? They eat bugs, especially in the spring. Bugs eat our native plants but don’t tend to destroy them as easily as some of our favorite Asian cultivars. Birds need caterpillars and worms for their young. I grow newer cultivars and love them, but I’ve also made special provision for native plants in my garden to give all the creatures that visit and live here something to eat.
If you lost a rose or two, plant native shrubs in the spot where the rose once grew. You can always plant a rose nearby, but not in the same spot as before. Rose Rosette doesn’t remain in the soil except in rose roots that remain. Native shrubs and perennials evolved with our insects and birds, and they bloom at the right time for everyone.
But, just make sure you grow.
You might even get a little sweat on your brow, and it won’t hurt you a bit. You’ll be out in the sunshine, and when finished doing whatever garden work you have, whether it’s planting, sowing seeds, or harvesting, you’ll thank me.
Want to know why?
There’s a secret all gardeners know. Yes, it’s hard work sometimes, especially in summer. But, if you persevere, you’ll come back inside with a mind much clearer and full of joy. Maybe not while you’re still sweating, but grab a glass of iced tea and rest. Sit in a garden chair. Look over your handiwork. Just like our good Lord, you’ll deem it good.
Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.
Discovered your blog this morning while surf-gardening instead of actual gardening. Now that I’ve betrayed myself, I will make a post of thanks then scoot out to get some of my stash planted. Seriously, you’re inspiring. Thank you for your essays. You made a comment in your bio about Kitchen Gardener magazine and, yes, I remember it and saved EVERY issue in my possession. I was crestfallen when they stopped publishing it. One of my all-time favorite magazines.
Dee Nash says
Why Hillary, thank you so much. When I get comments like these it truly makes my day. Sometimes, I wonder if anyone reads blogs anymore. Oh yes, I loved Kitchen Gardener. I even went and bought back issues to find my garden plan in there. Happy Weekend!
Pam's English Garden says
A very inspiring post, Dee. I’m ready! Now if only Mother Nature would cooperate and stop sending snow. Love the picture in your sidebar. P. x
Thanks! I needed that 🙂
How exciting to think it’s all close to starting again, all those flowers and growth and life… and bugs… I like most of them but those ticks, gnats and mosquitos I could do without!
Dee Nash says
Yeah, ticks and mosquitos and wasps, oh my!
Thanks for the inspiring post and helpful suggestions. Especially I’m interested in the idea of raised beds in an area between my house and garage where I’ve hoped to develop a courtyard type garden. Virtually all of the ground is compacted gravel (former driveway) and has been hostile to planting efforts. I’m hoping to use some Japanese maples and/or crape myrtles in the area and raised beds may be the answer (?). I’m also trying to use more native plants though I haven’t found success with the likes of purple cone flower and coreopsis to be as “easy” as advertised. They seem to survive, but not flourish for me.
Dee Nash says
You’re so welcome! I love to help people. I’m assuming you live in Oklahoma. Do you have sun or shade in that spot? You can definitely grow both of those plants in raised beds or containers. In my climate coreopsis are short-lived perennials. They literally bloom themselves to death. As for echinacea, it isn’t the easiest thing to grow, but once you get it started, it will reseed, at least the purple varieties will. Good luck!
Richard Smith says
Yes, we’re in SE Oklahoma just outside city limits of McAlester. We’ve only been at this place a couple of years and recently finished construction of the garage and porches around the house so I’m hoping to make some good progress on landscaping this year. Your comments on echinea and coreopsis are encouraging, of course I want great swaths of them like I see in pictures of others’ gardens. My “courtyard’ area is about half sun most of the day, the remainder shaded by the house on the south and west. I’m planning to use flagstone and river rock over the gravel and a pergola against the garage wall. I expect most plants will need to be in containers of a sort, but I do have 2 Japanese maples and a nice clump of calla lilies growing in the area and doing reasonably well. I’m expecting delivery of “Ryusen” JM in a few days so I’m researching raised beds this AM. (Apologies for the long post, and failure to sign my previous post).
Dee Nash says
Hi Richard, I love long comments. Come by anytime. It sounds like you have quite the garden plans. Keep up the good work!
Eileen Sim says
Thank you for your garden temptation and garden tool recommendations!
Can’t wait to hear more about your gardening adventure as the weather gets warmer. 🙂
mona gabriel says
Yes, you do know what you’re talking about. I cannot imagine a life without gardening. I usually question my sanity right about now but get out there and do it all over again anyway..EVERY spring as soon as I can .. Planting as much as I can. and dreaming of all the things I can do to make the garden and yard prettier.. My grandmother was a daylily and camellia hybridizer and had an acre of daylily seedlings. The memories of all those flowers still makes me smile 50 years later.
Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening says
Thank you for the eye candy. It’s white outside my window. I would love to be out there growing something. Not this week!
Susan Staudt says
Thanks for sharing the pictures of your beautiful garden with us! Always inspires me!
Lisa at Greenbow says
A wonderful encouraging post Dee. I love seeing your lovely garden anytime. I like the new set up of your blog too. That path and trellis is so inviting. It won’t be long and we will all be out there sweating in the garden. Looking forward to it especially since I about blew away today.
I love all the eye candy…or garden candy! Love how full your garden is! Can’t wait until last frost!